Hot 20 – Kurt is King heading to Atlanta, but beware the Jungle Cat in the No. 1

It is expected. The standings look weird. With bonus points from the Duels and the demo derby that was the Daytona 500, some wound up with more points than anticipated, and some got far less. Even though the math was there to see, the winner of the season opener actually not on the top of the charts, things did not get that weird.

Our Hot 20 after Daytona…

1. KURT BUSCH – 1 WIN – 56 PTS
Two years ago, he had the wrong girl and got banned. Today, he has the right one and a trophy.

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2. RYAN BLANEY – 44 PTS
Iconic car, second generation Cup driver, a satisfying result.

3. JOEY LOGANO – 43 PTS
I am just one conversation over beers from being his greatest fan. Alas, it has not yet happened.

4. KEVIN HARVICK – 42 PTS
Move to Ford does not seem to have a negative effect on at least a couple SHR drivers.

5. A.J. ALLMENDINGER – 39 PTS
Not fast, but third last Sunday. Docked points after the Duels, yet sits fifth in the standings.

6. ARIC ALMIROLA – 37 PTS
Seeking to rebound after a miserable 2016. So far, so good.

7. KYLE LARSON – 36 PTS
If Smokey Yunick was his crew chief, he would have won…before he got disqualified.

8. DENNY HAMLIN – 33 PTS
With young Taylor a big sister in training, all is good. Very, very good.

9. CHASE ELLIOTT – 33 PTS
Why we should all carry a jerry can of gas while on a long distance trip.

10. PAUL MENARD – 32 PTS
Easy to identify a driver when he has the family named splashed across the hood.

11. TREVOR BAYNE – 32 PTS
Anything in the Top 20 at Atlanta would mark an improvement.

12. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 31 PTS
Not a fan, but if he should crash my party, and brought beers, I think I would be. Brad?

13. KASEY KAHNE – 30 PTS
Winless in 84, fourth on the team popularity charts, yet had a better start than Junior and Jimmie.

14. MICHAEL WALTRIP – 29 PTS
One final bow after his curtain call.

15. MATT DIBENEDETTO – 28 PTS
Clint, Junior, Rowdy, and Jimmie were among those who stepped aside to make room.

16. AUSTIN DILLON – 28 PTS
Now he knows how Kurt feels. Darn younger brothers, anyway.

17. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 24 PTS
Did someone mention fuel?

18. RYAN NEWMAN – 22 PTS
When I read that Ryan Newman is rumored to be dating Steven Perry, I got confused.

19. MICHAEL MCDOWELL – 22 PTS
Have you noticed that in a fuel mileage race, it is always best to have enough fuel? Funny, eh?

20. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 22 PTS
Jamie the Jungle Cat attacked anything that moved. Might he be on the prowl again in Atlanta?

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